What’s old is new again, and I’m not talking about Cracker Jacks. They never went away and so too the “prize” inside, which more often than not was a temporary tattoo (ever the provocateur, the tats were my childhood favorite).
The old and new that I’m talking about is gamification – the application of game mechanics and techniques to make <insert your site, mobile app or product here> more fun, engaging, popular and hopefully successful. But does gamification have any value, or is it just another 21st Century mashup?
The question is more than academic because designing games — particularly serious games, or intentional games as I prefer to call them – is an important part of my practice. And the more I consider the best use of gamification, serious games, or simulations for a project, the more I see them as different points on the same continuum – and one that’s been going for some time. Consider:
- S&H Green Stamps (now GreenPoints) gamified grocery shopping in 1893
- CrackerJacks with a free prize inside gamified candy in 1912
- Spinach sales bounced 33% higher when Popeye began eating spinach in 1931
- Frequent Flyer programs have been rewarding brand loyalty since 1979